At age 22, preparing to leave university with a degree in English, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I had narrowed it down though: London. I wanted to be in London.
Armed with this – admittedly wide-ranging criterion – I set about looking for graduate schemes that would guarantee me working in London. Being an organised type, I started applying as soon as the schemes opened. The first one that opened was the Royal Bank of Scotland. I had literally zero interest or experience in banking. I applied. I went to an assessment centre. I got a place.
And so I started working – unbelievably, if you had spoken to my secondary school’s maths teacher – in finance. I did this for fifteen years.
Today I leave that industry behind. I have been made redundant.
Many people have spoken about the mixed feelings they have when being made redundant; firstly the feeling of actually being redundant – useless, no longer necessary. Some have spoken about the financial worries this can cause and the impact that can have on their relationships.
I am lucky, very lucky, that this doesn’t apply to me. Whilst there are small children under my feet, there is no chance of me having time to feel useless. Our income from our rental properties means that I shouldn’t have to knock on the door of the workhouse just yet (but I reserve the right to shout at TheBloke (TM) and put it down to “relationship stress” rather than the fact that I’m just being a bit of a cock).
But, it would be callous to say that it doesn’t matter at all. Whilst the redundancy money is welcome, and any temptation to return to Canary Wharf removed from me, bright lights, big city have been part of my entire adult identity.
In many, many ways, it feels like an escape – a chance to be open for the first time about some of the genuinely unpleasant work situations I have found myself in over the years. And to confess myself; to document mistakes I made and situations I could have handled better. I may look to do this over the next few weeks. And also to celebrate the good things, of course, of which there were many. Friends I have made, experiences I have had, travel overseas. Good things.
I do not anticipate returning to finance. I feel I have paid my dues, and been paid for my dues. Having no intention of returning to finance is going to allow me to reflect more honestly on the experiences I had; there is no future employer I am worried about upsetting. It is not an exaggeration to say that if your name is sullied in the industry, you won’t work there again. Everybody knows everybody.
In many other ways the redundancy feels like an opportunity for reinvention – finally freed from the dreadful self-esteem zapping horror that is annual appraisals (think: someone who has already decided what “grade” you are going to get, trying to shoehorn everything you have done into a 20 minute discussion about how you’re doing really well, just not quite well enough, and let’s use this time to dwell on your shortcomings to justify the fact that your bonus/pay rise is smaller than expected or non-existent.), I can finally focus on what I’m good at, rather than what I need to improve.
For now, my time is taken up by small people who won’t be small forever. Whilst they drive me insane at times
when they’re awake, it is a golden opportunity to spend days with them. As it is, EldestGirl starts school in September, and YoungestGirl will need to start part-time nursery soon to prevent her becoming fully feral. The days are long but the years are short.
Bridges burned… what next? What am I good at? What do I love doing? How can I make a difference? As the Royal Bank of Scotland’s motto read, “Let’s take all your money and crash the economy!” Oops, no, sorry, it was “Make it Happen”. Despite what you think of RBS now, I still love that expression. Make it happen. Do it yourself. Take the reins. Let’s get going.